Revealed: UK's least favourite airlines

airline Wizz Air's aircraft is parked on the tarmac at Budapest Airport July 10, 2014. Wizz Air's maiden flight to London took off from Katowice in May 2004. It now has over 300 routes, annual revenues of 1 billion euros, counts Ryanair, another no-frills airline as its main competitor, and dominates air travel in a region with faster economic growth than the rest of Europe. Organic expansion in the region and as far afield as Moscow, Tel-Aviv or Dubai is set to continue while a new phase of growth is likely to come from Wizz Air exploiting the difficulties of state-backed regional airlines that are struggling to survive. To match story WIZZAIR-HUNGARY/   Picture taken July 10, 2014. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo (HUNGARY - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT)
Wizz Air has some of the least generous legroom available across airlines. Photo: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

Troublesome boarding experiences, constant delays and almost zero seat comfort have landed budget airline Wizz Air (WIZZ.L) the title of Britain’s least favourite short-haul airline.

Amidst a number of complaints from passengers about its poor customer service, Wizz Air was the worst performing short haul airline in a survey by consumer group Which?, receiving a customer score of 48%.

One unhappy customer reported their flight was “an unpleasant experience” and there were repeated complaints about delays.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data revealed the airline was among the worst for punctuality last year, with just 56% of flights arriving on time. Of the short haul airlines included in the survey, only Tui fared worse for punctuality, with less than half (45%) of its flights on time.

Ryanair (52%), Eurowings (53%), British Airways (56%) and Lufthansa (LHA.DE) with 57% finished just ahead of Wizz Air.

Read more: Budget airline Wizz Air passenger numbers up 58%

Travellers also gave Wizz Air only one star when it came to seat comfort, as the budget airline has some of the least generous legroom of the airlines Which? surveyed.

The airline’s seat pitch ⁠— the distance between two rows in standard economy ⁠— is a full two inches smaller than its budget rival Ryanair (RYA.IR).

Watch: Wizz Air forecasts a return to profit in the coming financial year

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “Travellers have had a torrid time in recent years, with last-minute delays and cancellations an unacceptably common occurrence. While airlines like (JET2.L) have distinguished themselves by offering flyers excellent customer care and a reliable service, too many of their competitors continually fail to measure up.”

“If alternative carriers are available for your route, avoid Wizz Air, as its poor record on customer care means you’re likely to be left high and dry in the event your flight is delayed or cancelled.”

Ryanair received a clutch of one and two star scores, including just one star for boarding experience, seat comfort, food and drink and cabin environment, with one respondent summing up their experience as “just awful”.

Flag carrier British Airways (IAG.L) was panned by survey respondents, with one traveller remarking they felt their experience was “a race to the bottom, providing as little as possible and making cattle class sound like something better.”

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The airline scored only two stars for boarding, seat comfort and value for money, and three stars in any other category. Some 2.3% of its flights were cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice, making it among the least reliable airlines surveyed.

The number one offender for last-minute cancellations was Eurowings, which cancelled 3.4% of its flights within twenty-four hours of departure, followed by Flybe (3.1%), now in administration, and Guernsey-based Aurigny Air Service, which despite rating highly on punctuality, suffered a number of cancellations last year, in part due to bad weather on its remote Alderney route (3%). emerged at the top of the short haul airline table, with a customer score of 80%. Travellers awarded it five stars for customer service, with customers praising the helpful and friendly staff.

One remarked that the airline “excelled in all areas of customer support”, while another claimed it is “the best airline by a country mile”.

Norwegian Airlines achieved a customer score of 74%, and performed above average on both cancellations and delays, with 80% of its flights on time last year, and 0.6% cancelled at short notice.

Watch: Airline refunds: What are your rights as a consumer?

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